ABOUT six months after his resignation from Cabinet, former resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson has been named chairman of The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association Advisory Board.

The newly-created position will see Mr Ferguson provide advice to the APPEA chair, board and chief executive as well as assisting in the industry’s promotion of the benefits it delivers to the wider Australian community.

APPEA chairman David Knox said there were few people in Australia with such a comprehensive understanding of the country’s petroleum sector.

“I am pleased that someone of Martin’s calibre will be the first Chairman of the APPEA Advisory Board to help us both meet the challenges presented by the industry’s unprecedented expansion and take advantage of the immense opportunities available to the industry during this exciting time,” Mr Knox said.

APPEA chief executive David Byers said Martin would bring a wealth of experience to the role.
“His commitment to the development of Australia’s oil and gas industry and support for project investment stems from his appreciation of the economic opportunities the industry presents to Australia,” he said.

News of the Ferguson appointment came on the same day he was named group executive of natural resources for Seven Group Holdings and joined the University of Western Australia’s Energy and Minerals Institute.

But the appointment was not greeted with universal praise, with the Australian Greens questioning the timing of the appointments.

Greens leader Christine Milne said the moves made a mockery of the code of conduct which prevented former ministers engaging in lobbying activities relating to any matter in which they had had official dealings.

“It’s hard to see how a former resources minister going to work in the resources wing of Seven doesn’t make a complete mockery of the code,” she said. “Mr Ferguson is an advocate of the fossil fuel industry.”

“Mr Ferguson says he is conscious of the code, but in the same breath says he wants to build community support for gas and encourage development,” she said.